The Arthur Conan Doyle EncyclopediaThe Arthur Conan Doyle EncyclopediaThe Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, KStJ, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

Our Separation Laws

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Our Separation Laws is a short article published in the Daily Mail on 9 october 1917, including a part of a speech by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Our Separation Laws

Daily Mail (9 october 1917, p. 5)


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, president of the Divorce Law Reform Union, speaking at Manchester last night, said the device of separation was an attempt to effect a compromise where no compromise was possible — a compromise between an outgrown, old-fashioned theology on the one side, and common sense and human nature on the other.

Common sense cried, "Separate these incompatible people"; theology retorted, "Yes, separate them, but don't set them free." The result was that some hundreds of thousands of couples had received leave to separate but were not allowed to re-marry. Could anyone conceive such a measure as that being passed in the name of morality? The result had been the forming of illicit unions, to which the public mind had become accustomed. He was assured that there were places in working-class London where there were far more mistresses than wives.

A separated woman at present might live either to eat out her heart in solitude or become the mistress of another man who would willingly marry her if he could. Was it Christian morality that a woman through no fault of her own should have to face such an alternative?

There were hundreds of thousands of men and women in this plight of separation who might atone for the fearful losses in human life caused by the war. This question of future population was one upon which the balance of power 30 years hence and the safety of the country would depend. Sir Arthur moved a resolution calling for immediate legislation to convert separations of three years and upwards into divorces. The resolution was carried.